Monday, October 6, 2008

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster (a review)

3.5 out of 5: While grieving the recent death of his long-time wife and recovering from a debilitating car accident, Austin Brill is living with his unhappy divorced daughter Miriam and Miriam’s daughter Katya, who is mourning the death of her boyfriend, a casualty of the war in Iraq. To escape his own insomniac remembrances, August creates an alternative reality in which the U.S. is locked in a bitter civil war. Eventually, the unreality of the invented story threatens to escape its mental boundaries, raising interesting questions about the effect of imagination on reality. As one character in the civil war drama explains:

There’s no single reality, Corporal. There are many realities. There’s no single world. There are many worlds, and they all run parallel to one another, worlds and anti-worlds, worlds and shadow-worlds, and each world is dreamed or imagined or written by someone in another world. Each world is the creation of a mind.
This alternative reality is the best and most imaginative aspect of Man in the Dark. About mid-way through the book, August abruptly (and unsatisfactorily) ends his tale and begins interacting with his granddaughter in an attempt to disarm his memories and to drag Katya out of her deep grieving. Unfortunately, this interaction is overly sentimental and not nearly as imaginative and engaging as the first half of the book. Man in the Dark is a worthwhile read, but the book starts stronger than it finishes.

1 comment:

Loraine said...

I've just read the book. I like your review! Here's mine:

Have a nice day!